Reviews

Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

After Stiff (about cadavers) and Spook (about the afterlife), Roach gets lively with this account of sexual physiology. With a 12-city tour. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

It takes one kind of skill to pack a book full of scientific information (physical, chemical, emotional) about human sex and sexuality research in the 20th century and to do it with care and thoughtfulness. And it takes another kind of talent to do it with wit, humor, and pure enjoyment. Roach's third book (after Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers and Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife) beautifully succeeds in both categories. Working from the early 1900s to the present, Roach carefully and systematically surveys sex research and its findings, examining what was scientific about these studies. She also investigates the sometimes bizarre equipment and conditions devised for the research. There are frequent references to past contributors such as Masters and Johnson and Alfred Kinsey and plenty of information from current contributors both in the United States as well as around the world. Readers will find that Roach's informative and witty footnotes skillfully anticipate questions the text will stimulate. Any side avenue Roach may appear to go down always loops back to her central topic, and she handles the nuances of discussing sex and sexuality very nicely-even when the discussion involves the author and her husband. Highly recommended for all collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 12/07.]-Michael D. Cramer, Schwarz BioSciences, RTP, NC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Roach is not like other science writers. She doesn't write about genes or black holes or Schradinger's cat. Instead, she ventures out to the fringes of science, where the oddballs ponder how cadavers decay (in her debut, Stiff) and whether you can weigh a person's soul (in Spook). Now she explores the sexiest subject of all: sex, and such questions as, what is an orgasm? How is it possible for paraplegics to have them? What does woman want, and can a man give it to her if her clitoris is too far from her vagina? At times the narrative feels insubstantial and digressive (how much do you need to know about inseminating sows?), but Roach's ever-present eye and ear for the absurd and her loopy sense of humor make her a delectable guide through this unesteemed scientific outback. The payoff comes with subjects like female orgasm (yes, it's complicated), and characters like Ahmed Shafik, who defies Cairo's religious repressiveness to conduct his sex research. Roach's forays offer fascinating evidence of the full range of human weirdness, the nonsense that has often passed for medical science and, more poignantly, the extreme lengths to which people will go to find sexual satisfaction. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Choice
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.

Roach's descriptions of selected aspects of sexual physiology research are wry, irreverent, and humorous. Roach's scope is broad: she chronicles inventors' attempts to develop and demonstrate a mechanical penis and devices for women's masturbation; physicians' and scientists' studies of the clitoris, the penis, and orgasm; and researchers' examinations of the sexual and reproductive functioning of pigs, monkeys, and rats. However, because Roach (writer and book reviewer) chose to skim from the extant sexology research and scholarship various examples and instances that are odd (even inexplicable) or that have a significant "cringe factor," her book cannot claim to be a review of the historical or current research into the physiology of sexual functioning. Roach offers her book "as a tribute to the men and women who dared" (to study sexual physiology), but her emphasis on the esoteric trivializes vital, rigorous sexuality research and scholarship and those who labor on its behalf. Summing Up: Not recommended. P. Lefler Bluegrass Community & Technical College


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

*Starred Review* The New Yorker dubbed Roach the funniest science writer in the country. OK, maybe there's not a lot of competition. But even if there were thousands of science-humor writers, she would be the sidesplitting favorite. Of course, she chooses good subjects: cadavers in Stiff (2003), ghosts in Spook (2005), and now a genuinely fertile topic in Bonk. As Roach points out, scientists studying sex are often treated with disdain, as though there is something inherently suspicious about the enterprise. Yet through understanding the anatomy, physiology, and psychology of sexual response, scientists can help us toward greater marital and nonmarital happiness. Such altruistic intentions, which the book shares, aren't the wellspring of its appeal, however. That lies in the breezy tone in which Roach describes erectile dysfunction among polygamists, penis cameras, relative organ sizes and enhancement devices, and dozens of other titillating subjects. Not to be missed: the martial art of yin diao gung ( genitals hanging kung fu ), monkey sex athletes, and the licensing of porn stars' genitals for blow-up reproductions. To stay on the ethical side of human-subjects experimentation, Roach offers herself as research subject several times, resulting in some of her best writing.--Monaghan, Patricia Copyright 2008 Booklist